A Guide to Turkish - The Turkish alphabet
What's the Turkish alphabet like?
The Turkish alphabet has 29 letters. You may well have to spell out your name and perhaps your address in Turkish. Here is the alphabet and how to pronounce it
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What's significant about the Turkish alphabet?
The more difficult sounds
The Turkish alphabet has eight vowels: A, E, I, İ, O, Ö, U, Ü. The letters Q, W and X don't exist in the Turkish language and are only used for ‘borrowed’ foreign words.
The pronunciation of Q is k, W is u/v and X is iks/eks, i.e. quantum = kuantum, Rwanda = Ruanda, taxi = taksi.
The letters a, i, and u are sometimes written with a circumflex - â, î, û – which can completely change the whole meaning of the word , e.g. kar, snow, and kâr, profit.
The pronunciation of the vowels ı, ö and ü, along with the consonants ç, ş and ğ, are the more difficult ones for English speakers. Here are some tips on how to pronounce these letters:
ı is similar to the e in open
ö is similar to the i in bird
ü is similar to the ew in flew and to the German umlaut ü, eg in über.
ç is similar to the ch in change
ğ is similar to the k in Khan or khaki
ş is similar to the sh in shell
In addition, the letters c, j, g are pronounced differently to the English c, j and g. Here are some examples:
c is similar to the j in jump, jam
j is a soft j, similar to the French je.
g is pronounced as a hard g, as in garment, gold.
The legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Turkish was written in the Arabic alphabet for over a thousand years and Ottoman Turkish blended a great amount of Arabic and Persian vocabulary with Turkish words.
The current 29-letter Turkish alphabet was the personal initiative of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It was one of the major revolutionary changes which came with Atatürk's reforms after the birth of the Turkish Republic in 1923.
The transition to the Latin alphabet was formalised with a law passed on 1 November 1928, making the use of the new Turkish alphabet compulsory in all public communications and the education system, where it’s still mandatory today.
Email and website conventions
When giving an email or website address the conventions are:
. nokta, dot
/ bölü, slash
- tire, dash
_ alt çizgi, underscore